This glorious Easter season, the Texas Department of Transportation has taken it upon themselves to disrespect the state's flourishing Latino population. How, you might ask?
By using the Mexican game of chance known as lotería. The game is part of the branding for an anti-drunk driving initiative directed toward the state's Latinos.
It's being labeled a "culturally relevant campaign" that runs through May 5 (yeah, Cinco de Mayo, which in all honesty is more of an American bro holiday than an outright Mexican celebration).
And get this, a lunch truck van will make the rounds in Laredo, McAllen, Corpus Christi and Lubbock, luring people to mass games of awareness over driving liquored up.
Playing on the law of averages TxDOT is doing their part to save lives, according to them:
In 2013, there were 25,158 DUI-alcohol crashes in Texas that resulted in 8,702 serious injuries and 1,022 deaths. Of those DUI-alcohol crashes, 11,867 - or nearly 37 percent - involved a Hispanic driver. Among young male drivers ages 17-34, Hispanics accounted for nearly half (47 percent) of all crashes where drivers were under the influence of alcohol.
So, according to those stats, it's Hispanics overall, not just Mexicans. Still, it makes sense to target Mexicans since stereotypically, they are what the folks at TxDOT see when they see a Spanish-speaking person.
The entire dumbing-down of the campaign is just all kinds of wrong. And it doesn't appear that TxDOT even has a clue.
"It's much like how we remind people not to drink and drive over the holidays, or over Spring Break," David Glessner, TxDOT spokesperson said. "It's all about saving lives and we want people to think twice about drink and drive."
Courtesy of TxDOT Yeah, fun times right there.
Yes, even in Mexico and probably all over Latino America, you can get pulled over at a DUI checkpoint and taken to jail. (Of course, there are potentially ways out of that, involving a little cash in hand, if you know what I mean, but I digress.)
"It's not so much about singling out a particular demographic. This being Texas we have a large and growing Hispanic population," Glessner told Hair Balls. Good intentions aside, it goes without saying that the folks on TxDOT's community outreach team are out of touch, even though according to a press release there was a token organization on board in planning this, the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce.
"Texas is home to a large Hispanic population, and we see a definite need to address the issue of drinking and driving in a way that resonates with these drivers and connects with them on a cultural level," Pauline Anton the organization's executive director said. We hope she's well aware that Mexican culture is far different that the cultures in Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, and Venezuela, places whose citizens live here as well.
We just find it hard to believe that this campaign will do any good, since the people TxDOT should be worried about, who come from all cultures, won't be sitting down playing bingo during the holidays, they'll be out pounding shots
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.